Steven Detroy Settlemires, Philadelphia, attorney for appellants.
G. Todd Burwell, Jacqueline H. Ray, William Watkins Cunningham Jr., Ridgeland, attorneys for appellees.
Before GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, and CARLTON, JJ.
¶ 1. This action originated after Gladys Posey conveyed title to approximately 132 acres of her property to her sons, Paul and Robert Posey (Appellants), on September 13, 2007, through two separate deeds. Prior to that conveyance, Gladys had also conveyed approximately two acres of land to Robert's daughter and grandson, Hope and Dylan Chunn, in 2006. Gladys retained a life estate in the property. Two of Gladys's other children, Dorothy Pope and Willard Posey (Appellees), filed a complaint against Robert, Paul, and the Chunns in 2008, seeking to set aside the deeds and claiming that Dorothy and Willard had acquired title to some of the property in question through adverse possession.
¶ 2. Dorothy had been deeded a two and one-half acre parcel of land by her father in 1984. Along with the deeded property, she also utilized another twenty-five acres of the property, building fences, cutting timber, and constructing buildings. Dorothy acknowledged that the majority of the land belonged to her parents, but she acted as if it were her property. Dorothy claimed that this was the property she was due to inherit upon her parents' deaths.
¶ 3. Around 1994, Willard began possessing approximately sixty acres of his parents' property. Willard cut timber from the property, even providing his mother with proceeds from the sale of the timber. However, no property was ever deeded to Willard.
¶ 4. After Gladys executed the two deeds to the Appellants in 2007, conveying almost the entire property inherited from her husband, the Appellees filed a complaint to cancel the deeds and to confirm their title by adverse possession. The Neshoba County Chancery Court entered a final judgment on January 30, 2012, finding that the deeds conveying property to the Appellants should be set aside as a result of undue influence. The judgment also granted the Appellees' claims of title by adverse possession.
¶ 5. On appeal, the Appellants challenge the chancery court's decision that the Appellees acquired title to land owned by Gladys through adverse possession. However, since the Appellants do not contest the chancellor's finding that the underlying deeds were void as a result of undue influence, the Appellees argue that the named Appellants no longer have standing to appeal the judgment. Upon review, we conclude that the Appellees are correct and dismiss the appeal.
¶ 6. Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-51-3 (Rev.2012) states that a notice of appeal may be taken from a final judgment " by any of the parties or legal representatives of such parties[.]" There is no question that the Appellants were parties to the underlying judgment. But it is equally apparent that their mother, Gladys, was not designated as a party in the chancery court action. Furthermore, she is not named as a party to the appeal of the chancery court's decision. Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(c) says that " [t]he notice of appeal shall specify the party or parties taking the appeal[.]" Therefore, this Court must examine: (1) whether the Appellants have standing to appeal the chancery court's finding that the Appellees obtained title to the property at issue by adverse possession; and (2) whether Paul, as Gladys's legal representative through a power of attorney, filed the appeal on her behalf.
I. Do the Appellants have standing to appeal?
¶ 7. " [P]arties have standing to ‘ sue or intervene when they assert a colorable interest in the subject matter of the litigation or experience an adverse effect from the conduct of the defendant, or as otherwise authorized by law.’ " DeSoto Times Today v. Memphis Publ'g Co.,991 So.2d 609, 612 (¶ 8) (Miss.2008) (quoting Fordice v. Bryan, 651 So.2d 998, 1003 (Miss.1995)). Clearly, as recipients of ...